Helen C. Stabler

Stabler—Helen C. Stabler, 90, on January 20, 2022. Helen was born on November 7, 1931, the only child of Erwin and Emma Cross, on a small dairy farm in Nashua, N.H.

As a child, Helen assisted with farm and household chores, which taught her the lessons of Depression Era frugality and New England self-reliance. She was an avid learner despite often missing school due to childhood ailments. Early on, Helen developed a lifelong love of reading.

Following graduation from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, Helen moved to New York City where she met Ed Stabler, her soon to be husband of 67 years. Four children followed: Edward, Elizabeth, Caroline, and Catherine. The family settled in central New York in 1957, where Helen earned her master’s in education from Syracuse University while tending to her young family.

Ed’s teaching position at Syracuse University offered the family sabbatical opportunities, including living in England and visiting many European countries. Traveling with their children may have been as important as her master’s degree in providing Helen with the tools she used over many years as a preschool teacher.

Helen’s commitment to Quaker values was evident in her faithful participation in Syracuse (N.Y.) Meeting. She served as clerk, and as a member and sometimes clerk of Ministry and Counsel, Nominating, Library, and Witness Committees. She always came to meetings fully prepared, ready to move action forward. Her common sense and practicality often kept the meeting grounded and on task.

Helen helped with First-day school and with the meeting’s public series, Voices on the Land, which was an attempt to improve understanding among the non-native residents of central New York and their Haudenosaunee neighbors during a time of tension over land claims. She was the meeting’s liaison with Friends Committee on National Legislation. She was an editor par excellence and for years was responsible for the meeting’s monthly newsletter.

Helen was especially interested in things that she believed to be beneficial to others. Her commitment to the Quaker peace testimony extended to her service to Peace Action of Central New York. She served as editor of their newsletter and was honored for her contributions in 2004. Helen was a tutor for Literacy Volunteers of Greater Syracuse and participated in the Great Books Program, meeting weekly to discuss shared readings. Her sharp mind and intellectual curiosity contributed to her strong interest in current events around the world, which in turn informed and fueled her activism for peace.

Helen’s greatest pleasure was in her interactions with others, especially with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Toward the end of her life, she courageously accepted the limits imposed by her weakening health without giving up her determination to do what she could to promote joy in her family and advance literacy and peace in the world.

Helen is survived by her husband, Edward Stabler; four children, Edward P. Stabler Jr. (Kathy Hill), Elizabeth Riker (Jim Kolbe), Caroline Gettino (Larry), and Catherine King (Jack); seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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